At 3:07 AM -0500 2/12/98, Pip Chodorov wrote:
>"Preserving" a painting means restoring it to a condition in which it can be
>hung, as the painting it always was, in a museum. To noone would it mean
>digitally scanning the painting to be kept as "data" or seen on a computer
>screen, nor would it mean making color photocopies or reproductions of the
>painting to hang in museums in place of the original. Obviously.
>Why do people not see film as an art form, like painting, with its specific
>materials and exhibition spaces?
A more apt analogy , I think, would be the preservation of a lithograph
where only a single lithograph from an edition remains or only the stones
made to print it (roughly equivalent to the "negative") remain. Pip's
point remains valid nonetheless.
As for the (no doubt rhetorical) question of why people don't see film as
an art form, I think the answer might lie partly in the fact that those who
own film art and those who exhibit it do not consider it art and/or do not
treat it as art. Art dealers generally do not trim a Picasso lithograph to
fit the frame they have available for it, but this happens routinely (in
terms of running time and shape of the image) in TV showings of films and
sometimes even for theatrical exhibition. Nor do art dealers or museums
add colors to black and white etchings to cater to the presumed preferences
of their audiences.
The proliferation of reproductions of artworks may also have something to
do with it. Whether that reproduction is a photo-reproduction of a
painting or a videocassette of a film classic, it's something you can look
at any time, something you can "always" replace. So the original can
come to count for less--in a sense, become only one of many instances of
the artwork. The content also becomes the paramount consideration for the
mass audience; and the medium, its specific materials and potentials, and
the stylistic considerations of the production of the original become
secondary concerns (if they remain concerns at all). For instance, my
guess is that most people who own a photo-reproduction of Georges Seurat's
"Un dimanche après-midi à l'Ile de la Grande Jatte" don't use it to
study/appreciate his pointilist technique.
--Richard J. Leskosky
Richard J. Leskosky Unit for Cinema Studies
Assistant Director University of Illinois at
office phone: (217) 244-2704 2117 Foreign Languages Building
FAX: (217) 244-2223 707 S. Mathews Avenue
<http://www.uiuc.edu/unit/cinema> Urbana, Illinois 61801
Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite